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DNR responds to ‘foam event’ on Starkweather Creek

MADISON, Wis. — The Department of Natural Resources on Thursday responded to what they described as “a foam event” on Starkweather Creek.

A DNR staff person had observed foam along the creek on Wednesday near the docks at the Olbrich boat launch.

The DNR has hired contractors to contain the foam and sample it for any PFAS contamination. Results will be posted to the DNR’s PFAS webpage when available.

Foam frequently collects on the surface of rivers and lakes due to the buildup of organic compounds from decaying plant or algal material, where wind and waves push them to the shore. This foam may or may not contain PFAS.

DNR is responding to foam events in areas where there is known or suspected PFAS contamination and is also working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local health officials to ensure that the public stays informed of these situations when they develop.

The DNR is also conducting further surface water sampling in Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona this fall as a follow up to an initial effort to assess PFAS contamination in surface water across Wisconsin.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment through spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

PFAS can persist in the environment and the human body for long periods of time. Recent scientific findings indicate that exposure to certain PFAS may have harmful health effects in people. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to some PFAS substances above certain levels may increase the risk of adverse health effects, such as thyroid disease, low birthweights and cancer.

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